After SAD refuses to contest Delhi poll, BJP names its candidates on Akali seats

Ajay Banerjee
Tribune news service
New Delhi, January 21

After the Shiromani Akali Dal announced that it would not contest election to the Delhi Assembly, its alliance partner, the BJP, announced the names of its four candidates on the seats which had been given to the SAD.

Tuesday is the last day of filing nominations and the election is slated for February 8.

Around 7 pm on Monday the SAD said it would not contest the election. Around 1 am on Tuesday, the BJP announced its candidates.

The BJP list said Ramesh Khanna would contest from Rajouri Garden and Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga from Hari Nagar. Sanjay Goyal will try his luck from Shahdara and Dharamvir Singh from Kalkaji.

Rajouri Garden MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa said on Monday, “We have opted out as we refused to change our stand on including Muslims in the Citizenship Amendment Act.”

On being asked if this meant the long-standing alliance between the two parties would be called off, Sirsa said, “There is no talk about the alliance being called off. We have opted out as we did not want to compromise on our principles. The Akali Dal supports the CAA but is against keeping out Muslims or anyone else on the basis of religion.

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal’s stand in Lok Sabha was questioned by the alliance partner the BJP.

“The party was asked to reconsider the stand on including Muslims in the CAA. We have not budged. Our stand is clear that the country cannot be divided on the basis of religion. The Akali Dal does not favour the National Register of Citizens (NRC). People cannot be seen standing in queues to provide dcocuments,” Sirsa said.

He was accompanied by Harmeet Singh Kalka, president of the SAD’s Delhi unit.

On being asked if anyone from his party would contest as independent, Sirsa said they would not allow any such person to remain in the Akali Dal; this is the party’s stand.

Kalka said, “We have decided to sacrifice a few Vidhan Sabha seats for the party’s principles.”

The two parties were believed to be having a tussle over nominations, especially over what symbol the four Akali candidates would contest on. The BJP wanted the candidates to contest under their own ‘lotus’ symbol instead of the SAD’s ‘weighing scales’, a strategy the two parties used in the last Assembly election when two of the four Akali candidates contested under the BJP’s symbol. The SAD, however, resisted the idea, sources said.

In 2015, the SAD had contested on four—Rajouri Garden, Hari Nagar, Shahadra and Kalkaji—of Delhi’s 70 seats.

 

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